Behind the news: Negative press reports surrounding Vitamin D.
Posted 24 January 2014 12:00 AM by Healthspan
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical Nutritionist, has looked into recent news stories on Vitamin D and commented: “Many vitamin D trials take place in parts of the world where latitudes provide sufficient sunshine to prevent deficiency. In our northerly clime, however, we cannot synthesise vitamin D during autumn and winter, and frequently not on cloudy days during spring or summer either. For those who are housebound, or who cover up or use high factor sunscreens, deficiency is also common. This is underlined by the growing incidence of rickets – a vitamin D deficiency disease – diagnosed in children. The UK Chief Medical Officer recently acted to raise awareness of vitamin D deficiency in many at-risk groups, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under 5 years of age, those aged 65 years and over, plus those who have little or no exposure to the sun, or who have darker skin.
"Food supplements are only designed to do what their name suggests, to supplement food intake, not to overcome a lifetime of poor dietary and lifestyle habits. While food should always come first, the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) consistently show that significant numbers of the population do not get all the vitamins and minerals they need from the dietary choices they make. We know that 75 per cent of the British population have intakes of vitamin D below recommended levels, and this has negative effects on bone and muscle health, particularly in the elderly. As a doctor I will continue to encourage people in at-risk groups to take a vitamin D supplement all year round, as recommended by the UK Chief Medical Officer. If you are not certain whether or not your vitamin D intake is adequate, your doctor can measure your blood levels for you. You can also arrange this privately through www.myvitDtest.com
– a site set up by nutritional doctors to provide individual advice on the level of supplementation you need based on a DIY fingerprick home blood test kit.”
Our advice remains the same; a nutritious diet is the key to staying healthy, with supplements playing a helpful role for specific groups who are at risk of a particular deficiency and those who wish to ensure a basic daily level of nutritional support.
If you have any specific concerns about your diet, health or supplements that you are taking, you should always speak to your doctor who can advise you, based on your medical history.